On October 1, 2020, the City Impact Lab welcomed Tracy Evans, Race Director for AIDS/LifeCycle. Along with sharing her journey as a community creator and nonprofit leader, she also spoke to the challenges facing non-profits in our pandemic time.
Tracy shared her background growing up as the daughter of two flight test engineers in Lancaster, California. She started her career in the Bullocks department store executive training program where she gained foundational experience. To this day she believes that all the skills you need to learn in life can be gained by working in retail!
Pursuing a greater good
After a successful stretch working on the corporate side of retail and graduate school, she had an opportunity to follow a different path where she could do something for others. A rare opening for a director with Leukemia Team in Training came up and she joined a cause and effort she was enthusiastic about where she would eventually become the national director of the oldest and largest sports training charitable organization.
After spending time on a great adventure that took her to small-town North Dakota and back to California, she got to combine her passions by creating that community feel from her time in the Great Plains. She loved California, biking, and cared about the friends she saw impacted by HIV and AIDS/LifeCycle was the ideal organization to be a part of.
AIDS/LifeCycle: Responding to the new health and social landscape
AIDS/LifeCycle is more than a ride. It is a community event lovingly called the “gayest week of the year”. 2500 riders and 1700 volunteers produce eight festivals, eight days in a row between San Francisco and Los Angeles. These efforts provide core funding for the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which topped out at nearly $17million in 2019.
Like most organizations, AIDS/LifeCycle was impacted by COVID-19 and restrictions on group events. The 2020 and 2021 rides have been canceled and the team has quickly re-envisioned engaging their community. A 545-bike ride became a week of streaming virtual events that raised $8.4 million. As they were set to air their prerecorded lighthearted and fun content, the country felt a collective sadness and anger at the murder of George Floyd. The team quickly changed course to create content that matched their values of equity and social justice at that critical time.
Tracy’s three tactics for making an impact
With the challenges of 2020, these three guideposts have been crucial in continuing to move her organization’s mission forward:
Tactic #1: Make every day an adventure.
Tracy didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, unlike her engineer parents who prepared early on for their careers. She knew she loved adventure and became an “Adventure Capitalist.” She takes every day as an adventure, just like the long walks she now takes, asking, “I wonder what’s down this street?” She takes that approach with work, being open to the unknown that could bring surprising and rewarding opportunities.
Tactic #2: Build empathy through travel.
Tracy has earned her travel miles on many coach flights across the country. This has brought an understanding of multiple views and perspectives from people all over.
Tactic #3: Always say “Yes.”
It opens every door possible to make connections with the right people to make something happen.
Watch Tracy’s remarks:
After some Q&A time, the attendees broke into small to discuss the questions:
- What is something you should say “yes” to?
- Who do you need to make sure knows you’re available or do you need to make yourself available for someone or some group?
Looking ahead to November’s City Impact Lab…
The City Impact Lab will host a special post-election virtual breakfast on Friday, November 6th. Join us to hear from leaders who will provide insight to an uncertain time.
Watch these archive City Impact Lab video recaps:
September 2020: Capri Maddox on Creating Community Equity
August 2020: Hilary Norton on Building Better Cities
July 2020: Ron Galperin on Bringing Radical Transparency to City Finances
June 2020: Tunua Thrash-Ntuk on Advocacy and Action at the Local Level